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Climate Now: A reflection on every day actions

Kala Mtn Blog

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Climate Now: A reflection on every day actions

Eddie Schoen

The fact is I don't pay enough attention to politics.  I also avoid using the word 'wish' at nearly all costs.  But I wish I knew more about our current political atmosphere.  It's a wish because I know I am not likely to do much to change that.  Yet, our climate is changing and I know this because I see it and feel it for myself.  The snowpack is weirder.  The storms and weather are different from what they were twenty years ago.  The odd temperature swing just isn't very odd anymore.  Glaciers...

No amount of political action is going to make a meaningful difference in the way that humankind uses and abuses the Earth's resources.  Our leadership is a reflection of the overall consciousness that we embody as a culture, not the other way around.  Like it or not, the ones that get to be in charge are a manifestation of the overall fears, desires, and countless other misunderstood emotions that rule the societies that they represent.  

We can argue to no end about whether or not humans are causing the Earth's climate to change in significant ways.  Personally, I don't care.  I have my opinion on it, yet it doesn't often impact the way that I live.  For me, the more important factor goes beyond the question of how much humans are impacting climate change and is actually twofold.  First, there are too many of us on the planet.  Second is that those of us living in developed nations are living in a way that requires an absurdly excessive share of the available resources.  No matter how many solar panels and hybrids we get to mainstreet, our desire to consume is insatiable.  Food, fossil fuels, fashion, travel, light, heat, electricity. . . everything we love to do involves the consumption of one or more of these resources, often many.   The point is that the developed world of humanity, being anything beyond the state we might define as 'primitive', is by its nature out of balance. . . with nature.  

This idea can be taken as far into the extremes as your imagination desires.  Consider our ideas of shelter.  As living creatures we need a certain element of shelter from the environment in order to survive.  The single family mansions in constant development throughout Colorado's Front Range are something so far beyond the basic necessity of survival that I can't find the words to describe it.  Even the most modest single family home imaginable, that most of us would consider tight, but livable, is not too far behind.  Perhaps the idea of a single-family dwelling itself is excessive.  In many parts of the world, it certainly is.  But that sounds like Socialism, and we don't do that here.

The point being that we aren't going to stop having children.  And we aren't likely to see a massive shift toward communal living.  Which means we will remain out of balance with the resources the Earth has to offer.  Technology will continue to solve problems, pushing our doomsday further and further away.  As a species, I have faith we will come together and solve our most pressing problems.  Maybe that means we will eventually inhabit an entirely new planet. Without a fundamental shift in our relationship to the natural world, and the finite resources it can offer, we are just sweeping more of the dirt under the rug.  

Whether or not we are causing the climate to change will never be known.  It is certainly changing.  If you have an argument against the idea that we are simply using more than our fair share of resources, I probably have no respect for it.  Induce what you will.  For me, I feel an obligation as just one piece of the world's eco system to take and use as little as I can. The core fault of humanity is our inability to grasp how the Earth's resources are so interconnected, and, limited.  The chance for change starts with the small things we do every day.  I have cultivated a sense of shame anytime I walk away with coffee in a disposable cup.  I carry a reusable water bottle nearly everywhere I go.  These are tiny actions.  But they make a difference.  I drive too much.  Just like you probably do too.  I do my best to take steps that make riding my bike just a little bit more convenient and, as a result, more frequent.

Initially, one of my ambitions for living out of a tiny space was to explore the idea of living simply.   I imagined being a hero of sustainability, living off of solar power and creating zero waste.  The reality is a bit less admirable.  I use a shit ton of paper towels to keep things clean.  Composting seems next to impossible.  What this lifestyle does well, however, is force me to be eternally cognizant of my possessions.  I have far more than I need.  Yet, everything that I own is something that brings me joy.  My wardrobe is simple.  I have minimal electronic gadgets.  I have one coffee mug.  One daily water bottle.  Living out of a minimal space forces you to think long and hard about every possession.  And this is the concept that the world needs more of.  I'm not advocating for minimalism.  I'm not advocating that we all move into a cramped, tiny space.  I'm simply asking that we all be a little more aware of the resources we use.  Let's do our best to avoid the one-time use anything.  Let's turn off the lights when not in use.  Let's manage our time just a little better so we're not in such a rush that it's an excuse not to walk or bike.  Let's think an extra moment about buying that new piece of clothing or pair  of shoes.  Let's be willing to spend just a tad more money on the sustainable meat options, or occasionally forego the meat altogether. 

I like nice things.  I think the coal powered spectacle of downtown Las Vegas is kind of cool.  While I would be OK without any of it, I also recognize that we live in an amazing and beautiful world.  There is an incredible richness of experiences to be had by the human senses in this world.  I feel immense gratitude to be fortunate enough to experience it all.   Businesses and government getting behind an agreement to curb our consumption of the Earth's resources is a great step forward.  But every one of us has the power to push us into a leap that is far greater reaching.  It starts with the actions we take each and every day.  The biggest threat facing the environment is neither a president nor an oil company.  It is us.  Each and every one of us.  And we all have a choice about how big of a step we want to take in the right direction.